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Germany, Bild director fired for “inappropriate behavior”

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“Sex, lies and a secret payment”. It is the title of the article in the American newspaper The New York Times who re-launched the “abuse of power” allegations by the editor of the popular German tabloid Picture newspaper, Julian Reichelt, towards some collaborators. Just 24 hours after its publication, the media giant Axel Springer, editor of the German newspaper, he fired Reichelt, on temporary leave since the beginning of the year for having relationships with staff women. Already last spring the now former director had been suspended, but then reinstated after a short time, for having had relations with women of the staff. Now, according to the board of directors, Reichelt would not have separated private matters from professional ones and would not have told the truth at the top of the company, making the end of the employment relationship “inevitable”.

The revelations would emerge, writes the New York Times, from the internal investigations to the newspaper that Axel Springer had started last spring for the allegations of “abuse of power, bullying and exploitation of addictive relationships”. Research that revealed no indications of sexual harassment or other coercion, the publisher said. Yesterday the American newspaper published a report with new details on the internal investigation, regarding the former director’s alleged relationship with a trainee. The woman, as part of an investigation commissioned by the publisher, had said that Reichelt had summoned her to a hotel near the newspaper to have sexual relations and had asked her to keep the secret regarding a payment.

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by Enrico Franceschini

“If they find out I’m having an affair with a trainee, I’ll lose my job”, he said in November 2016 to the investigators of the law firm hired by the parent company of image to examine his behavior in the workplace. Just before the editor said those words, another woman from the newspaper had filed a sexual harassment complaint against of him, writes the New York Times.

But the journalists of the American newspaper are not the only ones to have investigated the past of the former director of the image. A file called the “Reichelt case” had also been opened by a team of reporters linked to the publisher Ippen Verlag who had had access to some internal documents of Axel Springer. Ippen allegedly blocked the publication of this material at the last moment, explaining that it “does not want to damage the economic interests” of a competing company. In a letter, journalists said they were “shocked” by the decision not to publish their report. Decision that “violates all the rules of an independent news report, while their investigations indicate the existence of abuses of power at Springer – starting with the former most powerful director in Germany – noting the evident public interest of the affair”.

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The president and CEO of the company, Mathias Döpfner, thanked Reichelt for his commitment, but also said that keeping him in his position was impossible. His replacement, Johannes Boie, will combine “journalistic excellence with modern leadership,” Döpfner said.

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